Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Why Every Christian is Called to Rescue Orphans - Abba Changes Everything | Christianity Today

Abba Changes Everything | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

Taking a Stand

Thought I'd share an email I sent to MSNBC this morning. As the saying goes... If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

I am sad to say I am extremely disappointed in Today’s decision to air an excerpt of a Lady Gaga video as a promo for her upcoming Today show appearance. I am not a Lady Gaga fan nor do I have anything against the entertainer. However, I was shocked to see a video clip of her erotically grinding her “nether region” on someone and kissing another woman. Why on earth would you air this promo at 9:30 AM EST? I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, however, my toddler son was in the living room standing in front of the TV with my husband when this aired. If he were any older I would have some serious explaining to do.

Consider this your one and only warning, Today. I’ve been a faithful viewer for decades, however, I will not allow your blatant disregard for family values to infiltrate my home. It’s hard enough to instill morals and values in our children today and I certainly will not allow you to further enhance an already-monumental challenge

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What a Wonderful World it would be

I’m reading my way through the Bible for the second time and this morning’s reading was the book of Joel, a prophetic book about God’s judgment. Joel also speaks much about the day of the Lord and the final cosmic battle between good and evil. After I finished the heavy reading of this book I felt I needed a little pick-me-up so I began to thumb through the New Testament. I came across the following verses.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

What beautiful thoughts and words to carry forth into the day. As I reflect on this passage I can’t help but think of what a wonderful world it would be if everyone followed this directive. God truly has given us life’s instruction manual in His Word. We just fail to follow His instructions.

I’m going to print out this passage and display it prominently in front of me today—no matter where I am. I intend to keep it in my line of vision so I will have a constant reminder to encourage, help, be patient, be kind, be joyous, be prayerful and most of all be thankful—in all things. Care to join me? Maybe together we can indeed make the world a more wonderful place.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Remembering in the Wilderness

Wow! Talk about a timely message. The following devotional was in my Inbox this morning. How apropos! But then again God is amazing like that. Absolutely perfect... (And yes, in reading the Old Testament I've thought these exact thoughts about the children of Israel.)

remembering in the wilderness

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So Much to Say

I have so much to say, so many things God has laid upon my heart that I’m not even sure where to begin. I’ve posted ad nauseam this year about challenges my family are facing. The “talking points” God has placed on my heart relate to these challenges. Perhaps God has someone specific in mind to benefit from this blog entry.

Let me just say again that the economy is kicking our tails. I’m so tired of thinking, let alone talking/writing, about it but I feel a need to preface what I’m going to write. We have seen a dramatic downturn in our business revenue and therefore, our personal income. Don’t get me wrong, we continue to be blessed beyond measure compared to many. Our company’s doors are still open and God continues to bring business through them, however, we have had to be very creative in reworking our operational budgets—corporately and personally. This is an on-going, constant project. The stress of this is overwhelming. We never seem to get away from it. It is present when we wake up, throughout the day, when we’re trying to relax at day’s end, when we go to bed and unfortunately when we are sleeping. It definitely takes a toll on us.

It gives me great joy to say it has not taken a toll on our family life. Our situation has opened our eyes as to how much excess we truly had. There is no shopping unless it is for Jackson, and even that is only at consignment stores. Thankfully they are plentiful in Palm Beach County. As for entertainment—it is non-existent outside of our home. If it costs money, we don’t do it. We don’t dine out. We don’t attend events. We don’t travel. Much as I’d like to, I don’t join the costly mother and child activity groups. Yet our recreation is plentiful. We cannot believe how much richer our lives are for this. Another unexpected yet cherished by-product of these trying times is that our marriage is stronger. I know this is usually not the case. Financial stress has been the death knell for many previously-healthy relationships. We give God the glory for bringing us closer together. A great analogy would be that of people adrift in the ocean on a life raft. My husband and I are huddled together, better yet clinging together, for strength and security. Praise God!

Yet despite these positive turns, life is stressful and most days I forget just how faithful God has been and is. I had this realization in church Sunday. We had our final, one-year post-placement adoption visit with our social worker Saturday. I was a nervous wreck for our first and even second post-placement visits but I hardly gave this visit a second thought. We sailed through the visit, talking to the social worker like she was a neighbor. No stress. No worry. We just chatted and laughed. And I never took the time to appreciate that until singing a song in church Sunday. God hit me over the head with that realization. I had stopped appreciating all the good things in life that happen every single day. Shame on me. I’ve become so caught up in the worry and stress that I stopped living. My life had become joyless.

I really focused on this realization this morning in my prayer time and in response God showered me—literally—with memories of all of the wonderful and wondrous things he has done in my life over the years. The memories just flooded over me. In my mind I could see struggles I’ve had over the years, but they were visually small—like looking through a pinhole. And I could see blessings and answers to prayers and they were larger than life! I really believe God was reminding me that the struggles we’re facing right now will be overshadowed yet again with amazing blessings—if we just keep our focus on Him and let Him work within us, refining us. He is glorified in this—in all things—good and bad. Always! It is imperative that we never, ever lose sight of His sovereignty.

Ecclesiastes 7:14
When times are good be happy; but when times are bad, consider God has made the one as well as the other.

Psalm 40:5
Many, Oh LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them they would be too many to declare.

Be blessed, whoever you are. Please don’t let your life be joyless. Find joy in everything, in ever blessing—no matter how great or how small, and remember to give God the glory. He wants only good things for you.

Jeremiah 29:11
“…For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I’ve been having a tough time lately reconciling the mundane “concerns” of my (family’s) life against the true trials and tribulations of life as a whole. I’ve wrestled with this dichotomy before, but it really struck me yesterday as I was trying to remedy the underarm stains of my husband’s dress shirts. I don’t mean to trivialize his problem. Really, I don’t. His appearance and presentation are direct representations of our business. The bottom line is this: the typical person judges man’s outward appearance. Period. If my husband doesn’t look his best, people may not want to do business with him. This is a sad but true fact.

As I was lamenting the best and most cost-effective way to treat the stains (which ironically occurred because the manufacturer felt the need to “improve” the antiperspirant formula) it really struck me that this absolutely has to be at the bottom of the “life’s most important things” list. There are people around the world and around the corner who are homeless, starving, dying, losing their homes, being exploited, victimized and abused—and we’re worried about underarm stains. Even writing this makes me sick to my stomach.

Where and how do we begin to make a difference? Some of you who are reading this know I’ve written in this vein before. This overwhelming feeling of inadequacy is not new to me. If anything, I’ve become even more aware of the disparate circumstances of humankind. I’ve read some great books as of late regarding our call as Christians to serve others so it’s fair to say the Holy Spirit is working within me, prompting me to get out and do something. I’ve been tossing some ideas around in my head—possible ways to raise monies to support causes near and dear to my heart. These are, of course, mostly causes that provide some manner of care for orphans.

I’ll keep you posted as to what transpires. As a matter of fact, be prepared because I just may come to you for support for a cause or two. Until then, I guess I will have to find a way to reconcile our family's simple yet abundant blessings— health, love, food, shelter, clothing, safety, freedom—to the poverty that truly isn’t that far removed from our lives.
Galations 6:2
Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Not About Me

My earnest prayer for the past few months has been for it to “not be about me”. Seriously. I’ve had enough of me. I no longer want it “to be about me”. But things always have a way of turning themselves around in my head and before I know it—you guessed it—it’s about me. Grrrrrr…… How and why does this happen? I wish I could tell you this is meant as a rhetorical question, but it’s not. I don’t understand why it is so difficult to continue with a mindset for more than a couple of days. I couldn’t be more serious when I pray this prayer. I’m over me. I’ve worried about me enough over the years. It’s time I focus on someone else—a much greater cause than the Cause of Me.

There have been studies conducted on the subject of worry. Here are some interesting points to ponder.

40% - Percentage of what people worry about that never happens
30% - Percentage of what people worry about that has already happened and is unalterable
12% - Percentage of what the average person worries about that is said by others (about them), which is usually untrue
10% - Percentage of worry that deals with health matters, which are exacerbated by worry

If you add up these percentages this means eight percent of the things we worry about are real problems—which aren’t remedied by worry anyway!

What a colossal waste of time and energy!

So what am I going to do about it? I’m going to keep on praying. As a matter of fact, I’m going to ramp it up! I’m going to put this prayer into hyper-overdrive. I want more than anything to spend this valuable time and energy on making someone else’s life and circumstances better. Yep, that’s what I’m going to do. As my loving and wise husband tells me, I’m getting over myself. I’m stepping aside, out of my own way. I’m going to let it be about someone else for a change.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matt 6:25-26)

Indeed! And in deed! Let it be about someone else!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Resting in the Good

I haven’t had any free time to write lately. As you can probably imagine, I more than have my hands full caring for a 16-month old, my husband, my home and myself (in that order)—all while attempting to work efficiently from home. But this may be a good thing because I’ve really been mulling over what I want to write about. I’ve had several things that have weighed heavily on my heart lately, but a lack of time for writing has really let me disseminate and organize my thoughts.

I’ve been really touched as of late by a lot of things in the news. As I’ve written before, I have a tendency to be hyper-sensitive to bad news, but lately I’ve been virtually grief-stricken for the world as a whole. I feel the turpitudes of modern society are increasing at lightening speed. No longer the exception to the rule, I’m physically sickened to read the newspaper most every day. My spirit is literally weighed down when I think about the evil humans are capable of committing. Although this has been on my heart, I absolutely refuse to devote an entire blog entry to the subject of evilness. Simply put, I will not give Satan this much power.

Low and behold, what does God place upon my heart? Goodness! Grace! Empathy! Compassion! Mercy! Hope! The list goes on and on. Of course this has much to do with Holy Week—the days between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.

I’ve been reading Isaiah 53 a lot lately. This has come to be one of my all time favorite chapters of the Bible. I find Isaiah 53 paints the most moving portrait of God’s love for us. As I read the words of this chapter I feel (in my own heart) the same pain and anguish that God feels, over the death of His Son. These feelings of pain and anguish made me realize that if I am capable of feeling what God feels, then He is more than capable of feeling what I feel. I mean, after all, He created ME! If I’m grief-stricken about the downward spiral of humankind, just imagine how God feels. He is even more heartsick than I am because we are His creation.

But my thoughts don’t end here with the topic of sadness. My recognition that God feels what I do (and vice versa) made me realize that this carries over to gladness as well. If God and I feel the same anguish and pain then we also feel the same gladness and joy. I just don’t always take advantage of this. Shame on me. Seriously, shame on me for not always grasping the goodness God has placed in front of me. Why do I choose to dwell on the bad when I can rest in the good? God has given us hope in the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. And in this hope He has given us the future certainty of life everlasting. I should be joyful! My pain and anguish are temporary. I will face many trials and tribulations as I walk through this life, but I will indeed persevere because of the sacrifice God ultimately made for us humans. This isn’t abstract thinking, it’s reality.

I need to change my focus. I need to feel the happiness and joy God feels. I need to not only experience His gladness, but embrace it—fully! His joy is there for the taking, I just need to reach out and grab it.
Isaiah 53

1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Monday, March 15, 2010

One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through life:
‘Tis the set of a soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I came across this poem in Charles R. Swindoll’s So you Want to Be Like Christ a couple of weeks ago. I absolutely fell in love with it and think of these words often.

This poem gives me great pause as I contemplate which type of “sailor” I am. Does my ship take on water when the seas become rough or do I tack with the wind to keep moving forward, even if it means moving in a slightly different direction? I’d like to think I’m the latter, but it’s not by my own wisdom, strength and discernment that the waves don’t sink my ship. On the contrary, it is only with wisdom, strength, discernment and direction from God’s Holy Spirit that I am able to safely navigate life’s waters. I wouldn’t have it any other way. As I sail through life I am well aware of my limitations.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Amazing God

I serve an amazing God. He is a loving God. He is merciful and full of grace. He is faithful. He is omnipotent and omniscient. And He loves me. Despite all my glaring flaws and faults my Redeemer loves me. Who knows me better than He?

No matter what type of storm I’m weathering, God is ever-present in my life. No matter the turmoil I’m facing or the raging sea in front of me, He is there for me every moment of the day, every single day. Oftentimes I’m so mired down in the struggles of life that I forget to give God the glory and honor He so rightly deserves. This oversight causes me great sadness when brought to light. I wish I could tell you I learned from this mistake the first time it happened, never to repeat it, but of course that’s not the case. I stumble and fall time and time again. But God keeps no record of my mistakes. He still loves me despite myself. Through the blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ my sins are washed away.

I love my Heavenly Father. I give Him thanks and praise, not for what He does for me, but simply because He is worthy. He cares deeply for me and loves me beyond measure. He cares so much that He sent His son to die for me—a poor, miserable, undeserving sinner. I can’t think of anyone more worthy of my adoration and devotion. Thank you, Father God. Thank you.

Exodus 15:2
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Great Message Worth Sharing - Newsboys - Born Again (Official Video)

Video for the song, "Born Again", the title track off the newsboys new record which releases June 8th, 2010. This video was shot just outside Tijuana, Mexico in the Baja penninsula, where the newsboys will be taking friends and fans this summer to embark on one of the biggest home building projects ever to support the poverty stricken people of the Baja.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Epiphany #2

I have a very specific routine I follow when putting Jackson down for a nap or bedtime. Our routine culminates with us sitting in a chair in the corner of his room. He straddles my lap and faces me. Oftentimes he is so spent from activity that he immediately puts his head on my shoulder and nods off to sleep within a minute or two. He does, however, on occasion fight sleep by clapping his hands, making faces at me and in the mirror behind us or tugging my hair while intermittently resting his head on my shoulder, fighting to keep his eyes open. It is this last action that is so special to me. As Jackson’s head rests on my shoulder we look into each others eyes. His lids are heavy and it is hard for him to keep his eyes open, yet we lock eyes and gaze deeply into each others' hearts.

As much as I look forward to the days when Jackson is a little more able-bodied and independent, I dread the time when he will no longer want to or be able to physically fall asleep in my lap because he has reached big-boy status. These ten minutes we share (a maximum of five minutes per nap/bedtime are all is takes) are the most special, cherished moments of my day. It is special ten-minute soul- connection that I experience at no other time of the day. We are as close as two individuals can possibly be for these few moments.

This afternoon, as we were going through our naptime routine, it dawned on me that God probably feels like this about us—His children. Although we are independent adults, God never wants us to become so self-sufficient that we no longer need Him. He wants us to be healthy, functioning individuals; however, he still wants us to be dependent upon him. He wants the same closeness and intimacy—this same soul-connection—that I share with Jackson.

1 Chronicles 16:11
Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Never Alone

We’ve had rough week in the DuBose household. My husband became sick last weekend with a bad cold and cough that eventually developed into a severe case of sinusitis. Jackson began to exhibit symptoms Monday and I became sick Thursday. A cold is apparently the gift that just keeps on giving.

Poor Jackson began sneezing and coughing with a slight fever Monday. By Wednesday he had a temperature of 102.3 with what I thought was a full-blown cold. Luckily he was supposed to see his pediatrician that day for his fifteen month well-baby check-up. Not only did the poor little guy have a cold, but he also has a really severe bilateral ear infection, throat infection and bronchitis. We’ve made two subsequent trips to the pediatrician for antibiotic injections (each visit) because he actually got worse as the week went on. The worst part about it was how much he cried. Jackson never cries. He is the toughest most resilient child I’ve ever met. He is a trouper. These multiple illnesses, however, really kicked our little man’s butt. He cried every day this week for nearly the entire day and some of the night. Oh, and I forgot to mention he is cutting eight teeth, four of which are molars.

You’re probably wondering why I’ve given so much detail about Jackson’s illnesses. Jackson’s illnesses aren’t really the topic here but I needed to express how sick he is and how much pain he has endured. As a parent it is so hard to see your child hurting and in pain. You feel absolutely helpless. I looked on in pure anguish, grasping for anything that would take his mind off things and make him feel better. This week really broke my heart.

While watching Jackson endure this it dawned on me that this is how our Heavenly Father feels when we endure hardship, suffering and pain. I only have two children to worry about and fret over. God has 6.8 billion people to worry about. Wrap your head around that number. Can you even imagine for a minute the overwhelming sadness and grief God feels in watching us endure our trials and tribulations? Our God is a merciful and loving God who wants only the best for us in life. He never wants to see us suffer. This epiphany reinforced to me that I am never alone in my suffering. I am never alone in my pain. I am never alone in my sadness. God is right here with me and to quote the final stanza of Mary Stevenson’s immortal Footprints in the Sand poem, "The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you."

Thank you, Father God, for your pure and perfect love. Thank you for your grace and mercy fresh and anew each day. Thank you for your faithfulness and for never giving up on me. I love you.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Here's to You

We are made in God’s image and therefore, inhabited by His Spirit. Hence our interpersonal relationships are sacred—or at least they should be sacred. Sadly this isn’t always the case.

I don’t know about you, but I’m easily tripped up by the day-to-day machinations of life. I get so caught up in “doing” that I tend to gloss over the important things. By important things I’m referring to people (family, friends, neighbors) in my life. I’m continually blessed by people through kind words, actions and offers to do things for me and my family—things I’m deeply appreciative of. But I can’t help but wonder if I truly convey my gratitude to people for what they do for me.

I fear I may treat people too casually. It’s certainly not because I don’t appreciate them. On the contrary, I am extremely grateful for my family and friends. My problem lies in the fact that I’m usually in ten places at once in a figurative sense. My mind is always racing ahead to the next thing I need to accomplish (or worse yet, reflecting on what I didn’t accomplish). I’m not only guilty of this while performing mundane tasks such as driving, grocery shopping, office work, housework, etc., but I also commit this grievous affront while communicating with people—in person, on the telephone or via correspondence. I’m seldom 100% present, and this is a tragedy.

That said, I hereby avow to stop this nonsense and to be a better wife, mother, daughter, cousin, friend. From here on out I intend to affirm others as my Heavenly Father constantly affirms me and to fully convey my appreciation and gratitude for each and every person in my life. My friendships are sacred and I want each and every family member and friend to know just how much they mean to me. I want my relationships to be a direct reflection of God’s holy nature that lies within me.

Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Build a Bridge

People today are hungry for love, which is the only answer to loneliness and great poverty. In some countries there is no hunger for bread. But people are suffering from terrible loneliness, terrible despair, terrible hatred, feeling unwanted, helpless, hopeless. They have forgotten how to smile, they have forgotten the beauty of the human touch. They are forgetting what is human love. They need someone who will understand and respect them.
Mother Teresa

Build a bridge. Get over it. I confess. I’ve uttered this phrase once or twice (or a dozen times). I’m not proud of that. I can tell you that when I’ve spoken these words, patience, understanding and compassion were far from my heart—even if I said them in (sardonic) jest. I can also tell you looking back I don’t really like the person I am when I call forth less than compassionate statements such as this. But does that stop me from doing it? No. Frustration is at times a byproduct of life—at least my life.

Truth be told though I would much rather build a spiritual bridge than a sarcastic bridge. I’ve written previously of my desire to be salt in a bland, hurting world; a light in the midst of darkness. This can only be accomplished by leading a lifestyle of faith as demonstrated by my conduct, speech and compassion for others. Simply put, my daily quest must be to live a righteous life, pleasing to God. After all, as a Christ follower there should be some resemblance of Jesus in me—a clear correspondence between HIS life and mine, don’t you think? My wholehearted desire is for my faith to result in works—not based on works mind you—works that are a tangible, living expression of the fruit of the Spirit—love, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, joy, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness.

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, in all the places you can, as long as you can.
John Wesley

Our hurting world needs evidence of God, now more than ever. Therefore, it is up to us—you and me—to demonstrate His power. This is easier said than done. Like everyone who has walked the face of this earth, with the exception of Jesus Christ of course, I am a sinner. I struggle daily to walk the walk as an ambassador of Christ. I try desperately to lead a life of integrity, compassion and peace. I know I can’t accomplish this on my own. I must be dependent on God for His wisdom, guidance and strength. I pray every day for His Holy Spirit to work within me, to mold me into His likeness, so I can live a life that is pleasing to Him.

Isaiah 64:8

8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

After all, we—you and me—are the earthbound display of God’s glory. When He calls us into a love relationship with Him, He calls us to be like Him.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to begin construction on a spiritual bridge or two today. Next door, down the block, across town, in my own family, halfway around the world, there are so many people and places in need of bridges. I better get to work!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Clash of the Titans

id n. - In Freudian theory, the division of the psyche that is totally unconscious and serves as the source of instinctual impulses and demands for immediate satisfaction of primitive needs.

ego n. - 1. The self, especially as distinct from the world and other selves. 2. In psychoanalysis, the division of the psyche that is conscious, most immediately controls thought and behavior, and is most in touch with external reality.

mer•cy n. pl. mer•cies
1. Compassionate treatment, especially of those under one's power; clemency.
2. A disposition to be kind and forgiving
3. Something for which to be thankful; a blessing
4. Alleviation of distress; relief

Id, ego and mercy—three small words comprised of between two to five letters each. The first two words are related in nature. The third word, mercy, might as well reside in another universe. Yet all three words have great importance in our household at present.

Master Jackson has learned the fine art of temper tantrums. At only 15 months of age I think he’s a little ahead of the game, but then again he is a toddler and toddlers lack inhibitions and control. As an adult, however, I am supposed to exhibit self-control, two-fold actually—enough for both of us. Some days this is easier said than done.

Master Jackson is not a laid-back, chill kind of child. He is extremely inquisitive and always on the move. He has been like this since the day we arrived home from Ethiopia. The child has always needed to be in constant motion, and this usually means in my arms. Not necessarily because he enjoys my company, mind you, but because I do more interesting things than he does. Being in my arms gives him a much better vantage point from which to explore the world. Realistically though he simply cannot be in my arms 24/7. I have things I need to accomplish (work for Bella Group, laundry, dishes, making meals, cleaning…) but Master Jackson can’t comprehend this. Combine this fact with Master Jackson’s attempt to conquer his world and you have the potential for a short-fuse at any given time. Master Jackson is not an exception in this respect. Simply put, when he doesn’t get what he wants, he turns to one of the only tools at his disposal for venting frustration—a tantrum.

Sounds like I have it all figured out, right? Sounds like there should be an easy solution to keeping the titans in their respective corners, right? Wrong! Master Jackson’s tantrums are just the tip of the iceberg. Not only do you have Master Jackson and his newfound knack for pitching a fit when the wind changes direction, but you also have the strong personalities of Bobbie and Greg to add to the mix. As mentioned above, Greg and I as adults have the ability to control our impulses. That does not mean, however, that we do not feel frustration and irritation. Yes, as adults with very real pressures and problems we sometimes have short fuses ourselves—with each other, neighbors, store clerks, our employees, people who share the roadways with us. The list goes on and on. And did I mention strong personalities? Ah, yes. Classic Type A personalities.

Wow! That is not a very pretty description of Greg and I, now is it? It makes us sound downright mean spirited. Guess what—sometimes we are. We can be impatient with and unkind toward each other. That leaves me feeling pretty lousy about myself and I bet Greg would say the same. God expects more from us and He spells it out very clearly in His Word.

Proverbs 15:18
18 A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.

Ecclesiastes 7:8-9
8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.

Romans 12:7-9
7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. 9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

The good news is that through prayer we can ultimately use our powers for good. Through prayer I can ask God to impart in me the same mercy and grace He extended to us through the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Through prayer I can ask God for His wisdom and patience which, by the way, are right in front of me through the Holy Spirit who is always with me. I just have to check my ego at the door first. And when I fall short of God’s expectations for me, let’s not forget that through prayer I can confess my sins and He will forgive me, far more readily than I forgive myself.

The irony of the whole toddler/tantrum dilemma is that Master Jackson throws tantrums because he wants independence and control over his environment. Master Jackson and I engage in power struggles because he thinks he is more capable of doing things for himself than he really is. When faced with boundaries and realizing his limits, the stage is set for a tantrum. When I on the other hand realize I can’t do things on my own, forego my own independence and turn things over to God my life is so much better. There is a calmness that comes over me, my family—our entire little corner of the world when I’m no longer trying to stuff a square peg in a round hole. Boy do I look forward to the day when Jackson gains this insight. I know that’s a long way off and until then I’m going to continue to breathe in and breathe out and remember that at only five letters long the word mercy is a much bigger word than either id or ego.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

My husband is one of the funniest people I know. The man can make me laugh at the drop of a hat, and at the most inappropriate times. More importantly he can make me laugh at times when it is most needed—when I’m stressed, angry or sad. He is truly a spirit lifter, not only for me but for everyone he meets.

The last few evenings Greg has been on a roll. Seriously. He has had me in side-splitting laughter—especially just before bedtime. I’ve had to tell him, “Enough already! I’ve got to get up in the morning.” I truly adore his sense of humor though. It is one of things I love most about him. Who doesn’t want to laugh? And I am blessed to laugh a lot.

The following are a few benefits we as humans reap from laughter.

• Laughter Activates the Immune System
• Laughter Decreases "Stress" Hormones
• Muscle Relaxation
• Reduction of Stress Hormones Immune System Enhancement
• Pain Reduction
• Cardiac Exercise
• Lowers Blood Pressure/Prevents Hypertension
• Enhances Respiration

So I want to thank you, honey, for all of the wonderful physical benefits I gain from your antics. Keep up the great work! At this rate I just may live to be 100. But just remember, I’ve always told you to think of our marriage as a life sentence. I’m not going anywhere. So the longer you keep me on this earth, the longer I’m going to nag you about picking up your belongings around the house and putting your dishes in the dishwasher.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Let Your Light Shine

January 2010 was one of the longest months of my life. The New Year started off with many challenges for the DuBose family. They are not unique or new challenges mind you, but rather the exact same challenges most (if not all) of you are facing in one way or another at present. Life is not without trouble. Simply put, we live in a fallen world and as inhabitants of this fallen world we all experience the exact same things at varying degrees at different times. What I don’t like, however, is how I’ve let these challenges take over my life and steal my joy as of late. And what bugs me even more is that I facilitate the joy-stealing.

I ardently try to be optimistic at all times. After all, I have great frames of reference to reflect upon. In tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I recently heard excerpts of one of Dr. King’s most famous speeches. In this speech he states, “Because I’ve been to the mountaintop.” I can relate. I too have been to the mountaintop, but I’ve also been to lowest of valleys. I’ve been to the bottom of the pit where I never thought I would (or wanted to) see the light of day again. Through the grace of God though, when I’m struggling with something, I climb back up to the top of the mountain because the view is so much better there. Admittedly, however, I’ve had a hard time doing that over the past couple of weeks, but not for lack of effort.

I’ve prayed hard for God’s divine intervention in the situations we’re facing. I’ve read scripture.

Luke 12:6-7
6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

John 14:1
1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

I’ve participated in a fast as a recommitment to the LORD. I just finished reading Max Lucado’s Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear. Yet despite all the effort I’ve exerted I’m still mired down in the “what ifs”.

This morning I decided to try a different tack. Today I asked God to let me be a light to people. I implored Jesus to live in my heart and to let his love and light shine through me onto everyone I came in contact with—especially the two people that live within these four walls with me. I prayed that God would let me be present in all things—in reading Jackson stories, at mealtime, at bath time, in the grocery store, during walks in the neighborhood. Experience tells me that being present can make or break someone’s day. We have no idea what the person standing next to us is going through. Holding a door, or offering a kind word or smile may be the only kind gesture or human contact that person experiences today. I admit, I have been so preoccupied with the pesky “what ifs” lately that I’ve been very poor company for everyone.

Shortly after I prayed these prayers I saw a photo on Facebook of someone I vaguely know. Actually we would have been related in a roundabout way if not for a divorce that happened along the way. To make a long story short, I sent this person a message on Facebook, telling her how heartwarming it was to see her obvious commitment to family and wishing her well. She wrote back with a very similar and lovely statement about me. So in this very brief period of time my prayer was answered. Jesus projected his light onto someone through me and in turn he reflected that light right back on me, boosting my spirits and putting a smile on my face. That one reflection of light has allowed me to spend the rest of the day basking in the “what I haves” as opposed to the “what ifs”. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you for your grace and mercy. It is indeed enough.

Matthew 5:14-16
14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Do you ever wonder what your purpose is in life? If do. I find myself pondering that question a lot. I always have. For many years I sat, spinning my wheels, knowing there was a greater purpose for me than whatever it was I was doing.

That changed in my early thirties when I was called into an intimate love relationship with Jesus Christ. From that point forward I stopped searching and started knowing. Knowing I was part of a much bigger picture. Knowing I was forgiven and loved despite a lifetime overflowing with mistakes. Knowing there was (the ultimate) someone (GOD) who wanted much greater things for me than I had ever given myself or even dreamt of pursuing. But my life’s quest didn’t end there. I wasn’t “complete” and I knew it.

For years I've prayed for God to use me in some way—any way. In the beginning, in my new “born again” state, I felt like a player suited up for a game, sitting on the sidelines chomping at the bit, waiting for the coach to put me in the game. Initially I felt as if my unanswered prayers were falling on deaf ears, but undeterred I've continued to pray this same prayer nearly every day over the years. At first I didn't understand why God wasn’t calling me to some greater purpose. I wasn’t frustrated by this. I merely didn’t get why he wasn’t utilizing me. But in fast-forwarding a decade and a half to the present I now understand why God didn’t put me “in the game”. Simply put, I wasn’t ready to play. I had so much training and conditioning to do. Calling me into service back then would’ve been the equivalent of sending a baby to the Whitehouse to serve as President of the United States. I had so much to learn. And still do.

The layers are slowly being peeled away and I can feel the work God is doing in my life. I still haven’t been called into action, but I know in my heart that God is putting a plan together for me. I can feel it. After some great prayer time early this morning I asked my husband where he saw himself in five years. His first answer was, “My eyes aren’t even open yet, Bob.” However, trouper that he is, after a minute or so he gave me his answer. It was a very practical and honest answer—out of debt, still in business for ourselves but headed down a different avenue with a more streamlined approach to business. I appreciate his candor but I see greater things in store for him than that and that’s saying something. My husband is a dreamer of big dreams. That’s one of the (many) things I’ve always loved about him. He has never put parameters around his life goals. I know God has wondrous things in store for him. I see them unfolding every day and it’s a beautiful sight to behold.

I’m not sure where I see myself in the coming years. I’m feeling a possible pull toward the mission field. After our trip to Ethiopia last year I could definitely see myself immersed in mission work. I can honestly say that at nearly 46 years of age I have absolutely no attachment to any material object. Not our house. Not the clothing on my back. Just God and my family. Of course I relish the comforts of life. I think we have the most comfortable bed in the world. And a hot shower? Few things in life are better. Oh, and clean water? After traveling to Ethiopia I have an entirely new appreciation for water. But could I leave it all behind? I think so. Until then though, I’m going to sit here on the sidelines in my uniform and helmet, waiting for the coach’s signal. Rest assured though that when he gives me the nod, I’ll be ready. After all, I’ve been trained and conditioned by the best.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Paralyzed with Sadness

I have been filled with a deep sense of sadness since the January 12th earthquake devastated Haiti’s Port-Au-Prince region. This sadness in turn has left me somewhat paralyzed. Throughout the day (and sometimes night) my thoughts turn to the people worldwide affected by this disaster. It’s been 11 days and I still have a hard time grasping the full physical meaning of what has happened and continues to unfold there. I see the images on television, in the newspaper and on the internet. I don’t let myself “obsess” with news of the happenings as I’ve done in the past. I learned from 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina that it’s easy to be pulled into the media coverage and how you suffer mentally and physically from allowing that happen. While I’ve “safely” observed this tragedy, it hasn’t lessened the sorrow, shock, disbelief and sense of helplessness I feel.

Don’t get me wrong. The one thing I don’t have is a sense of hopelessness. I know our LORD ALMIGHTY is sovereign over this event and will continue to be sovereign over every single thing that happens in this fallen world. But I, as a living, breathing and deeply feeling human being, want to do something—anything. However, I feel completely and utterly useless in helping to make a difference in this situation. Yes, we’ve donated to the disaster relief through our church, but honestly what impact will our meager donation have overall? This is a question I’ve been wrestling with. For 11 days I’ve been figuratively paralyzed with the words of 16th century martyr John Bradford running through my mind, “'There, but for the grace of God, go…”

I so desperately want to make a difference. I want to go to Haiti and move bricks and rubble and serve water and food and wipe tears. I want to hold hands and rock babies and comfort those in need. But I can’t. And the meager amount we’ve given as permitted by our present budget just doesn’t seem like enough. And when you look at Haiti as a whole, what would be enough? Poverty, hunger, lack of medical care and despair are not new to Haiti nor are these statistics unique to other undeveloped nations. According to a relatively recent United Nations Human Development Report, prior to the January 12th earthquake, nearly 80 percent of Haiti’s population lived in poverty, with roughly 72 percent living on less than two dollars per day. The same report cites 78 percent of Ethiopian citizens living on less than two dollars per day, which was one of the many reasons we chose to adopt a child from Ethiopia.

So what is my point in all of this? I’m not sure. I know I desperately want to rescue the world. My compassionate heart continues to grow, apparently commensurate with my age. The older I get, the more pressing it becomes for me to make a difference. I guess that’s why I wanted to adopt a child at my “advanced” age. I’ve had many people make the incorrect assumption that I did it for Greg’s sake. Nothing could be further from the truth. Last night a woman I had just met boldly asked me that very question. Truth be told, I’d adopt as many children as I could physically care for, but there is a little thing called “money” that stands in the way of this. I have a definite and huge tug on my heartstrings to adopt at least one, possibly two, more child(ren). At present not everyone in our household is on board with this, and that’s understandable.

Sometimes I ponder the question, “If I were granted one wish what would it be?” My answer always vacillates back and forth between wiping out poverty and abolishing loneliness. Removing one from the planet won’t ease the other one. So which is more important? See—this is how easy it is (at least for me) to get caught up in a sense of uselessness. Even if you had the ultimate power to change the world by removing one of its most pressing issues it’s still not enough to wash away its woes. How crazy is that? So what am I personally going to do about it? Well, for starters I’m going to keep on praying: praying for everyone to accept Jesus as their LORD and Savior, that the sick and hurting are cared for, the hungry are fed, the lonely are comforted, babies and children find loving homes, racism and hatred are wiped from the face of the earth, that everyone has enough… Please dear LORD, let there be enough—especially for our brothers and sisters in Haiti.